Starting School Series, Part 4: Finishing touches and preparation for the first day
Excited. A new class of children arrive tomorrow morning. Is everything ready? Yes, mostly – a few finishing touches will do it. Well… more than a few!
If I had a checklist, it would look something like this:
• Welcome notice and list of children’s names on the door
• Morning message board just inside the door
Clip poster size paper on the morning message board
and write a welcome greeting for children and parents
• Alphabet chart beneath the whiteboard in the mat area
• Pocket chart on the whiteboard ledge
Alphabet chart beneath the whiteboard in the mat area:
low enough for children to touch and trace over the letters.
1 -2 Buckle my shoe rhyme in pocket chart –
low enough for children to manipulate the word cards within the pockets.
• Number cards beneath the calendar wall
• Months and day charts beneath the calendar wall
• Laptop linked to the data projector
• CD player at the mat area (for music and interactive stories)
Calendar wall in the mat area. 100 grid board swings out for easy viewing.
CD player and laptop are on the small table for easy access.
• Shelves for children’s backpacks & hats are wiped and clean
• Refrigerator is clean and ready for lunch boxes and drinks
• Class printer and four computers are ready for use
• Coloured textas, markers, scissors, clag, pipe cleaners and collage materials are in the art/collage trolley
Art/collage trolley is equipped and
accessible in the art area
• Activity areas are labelled: block area, maths area, computer area…
• A3 charts of class names are on the door and the whiteboard (for name recognition)
• Two A5 name cards are prepared for each child (to draw self on name card tomorrrow)
• A4 papers are prepared with child’s name in big print at the bottom (for the class book tomorrow)¹
• Journal covers are printed, ready to cover the children’s journals, tomorrow after school
• Containers of writing pencils, coloured wind-ups and crayons are on each table for children to share
• Construction materials (eg. duplo, lego, mobilo) are in their containers ready for use
• Drawing/writing papers are on a table with pencils, wind-ups and markers
¹(Read more about using names for the class book in Teaching Strategies for Literacy in the Early Years ‘First Day Names and Portraits’ Pg. 34).
Papers ready for children’s free drawing and writing
• Puzzles, construction materials and maths materials are on the shelves
• Hands-on materials are on tables for children (and parents) to use in first 40-50 minutes tomorrow
Hands-on materials: polyhedrons, plastic links, teddy bears, nuts/bolts, dinosaurs
• Large rhyme charts hang on wires near the mat area
• A variety of books are in the bookshelves for children to read/share
• Large cushions are in reading areas for children to sit on whilst reading
• Assorted soft toys are in reading areas for children to play with and read to
• Maraca, pens and textas are in small containers, strategically placed around the room for easy access
Soft toy, Gruffalo is ready to go in the reading area.
The maraca is useful as a ‘signal’ to get children’s attention –
it’s a pleasant sound and saves my voice when
transitioning children from one activity to another.
The maraca is in a small container with textas and sits on the whiteboard/big book stand at the mat area – for easy access. Two other small containers of markers, pens, pencils and maracas are placed on the maths shelf and the art trolley, for use as needed.
Teacher information and school procedures
Notices are pinned on the display board near my table for quick reference:
- specialists’ schedules
- yard duty roster
- teacher aides timetable
- emergency procedures and exits
- wet day procedures
- draft timetable
Whew! Today was fun–not a chore at all. I feel a joyful sense of satisfaction knowing that the room is ready. A draft timetable is also ready so I know all the things I’m going to do with the children tomorrow.
First, the children and parents will see the welcome notice on the door. Then, they’ll see a greeting and list of children’s names on the morning message board.
The room is bright, colourful and ready with an array of inviting activities for children: blocks, legos, books, puzzles, drawing, writing… to start at right away. Occasionally a child may be upset and teary—and parents stay longer until s/he settles—so it’s nice to know things are ready in case upsets occur.
Half a dozen books for ‘read-alouds’ are stacked beside my chair in the mat area: books about starting school, books with rhyming words, funny books, alphabet books, number books. The big book of ‘Where is the Green Sheep?’ is set on the big book stand for shared reading.
But for now… it’s time to go home!
Coming next: Starting School Series, Part 5: Reading and writing on the first day – morning session